By Mike Harrington
If you're looking to mark your calendars for that visit by Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks or perhaps the return of Lindy Ruff with Dallas or Jason Pominville with Minnesota, you're going to have to wait at least another day.
The NHL's 2013-14 schedule, widely expected to be released late Wednesday afternoon, is not coming out even though all the teams have what is likely a final draft. The league cannot release the schedule until it wraps up a deal with the International Ice Hockey Federation to allow its players to compete in the Sochi Olympics.
The Olympics, of course, require a multi-week break in the schedule. Teams currently have two versions of the NHL slate, one with the Olympic break and one without it. Until the deal is signed, no schedule for the league can be released.
The NHL missed a huge PR window by not releasing the schedule Wednesday, because the day after the MLB All-Star Game is one of the deadest days of the year on the sports calendar. A release Thursday (or beyond) puts the schedule back up against the return of MLB and thus a secondary item in most markets.
The Miami Herald is reporting about a leaked version of the Florida Panthers' schedule, which has no games from Feb. 7-27 for the Olympics. If you were to care about the Panthers for some reason, that version has them coming to Buffalo on Jan. 9 and Jan. 21, and has the Sabres traveling to Sunrise on Oct. 25 and March 7. The teams, remember, are now in the same division.
Oh yeah. The divisions. The league still hasn't released the names for those either. The betting here is one big announcement -- yay or nay on the Olympics, the schedule and the division names. Stand down until Thursday, schedule-watchers.
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